It’s easy to confuse land clearing with deforestation, which gets a bad rap worldwide. However, this activity is an important part of any construction project.
It’s also a vital first step when eradicating alien invasive species. Every year, invasive plant species take over another 1.7 million acres of natural forests and fields in the USA.
Whether you’re clearing your land of this scourge or building your dream home or business, you’re bound to experience frustration without the correct tools.
Find out more about what’s involved in land clearing here and how to streamline the process.
Land Clearing Challenges
There are three main aspects to land clearing. These are getting the trees down, removing them, and making sure they don’t come back.
Most land clearing companies have all the necessary equipment to complete all three phases. If you don’t have large tracts of land to clear, you can do the job yourself.
You can do some types of land clearing yourself, such as preparing a small plot for a vegetable garden. In these cases, you won’t need more than a few hand tools. These include an ax or hatchet to deal with small trees, as well as a shovel and rake for removing roots and rocks.
It’s best to work with professional land clearing services when dealing with big trees, larger areas of land, or when preparing for construction.
If you decide to buy or hire the necessary land clearing equipment to DIY, these are the ones you’ll need for each stage.
Tackling Trees and Undergrowth
Never underestimate the power of a tractor with a mower attachment. These workhorses make light work of overgrown vegetation and can even take on small trees up to six inches in diameter.
For bigger trees, you’ll need to use a purpose-built tree felling machine or attachment like:
- A tree shear to snip down trees less than 12 inches in diameter
- A skid steer attachment that reduces standing trees to chips
Never try to imitate the methods used by professional loggers who can manage to take down big trees using little more than a chainsaw and a few pulleys. This technique is dangerous and the sole domain of trained and experienced professionals.
Unless you know what you’re doing, free-falling trees can easily damage property and may injure or kill people and animals standing nearby.
Clearing the Area
A skid steer is a huge help for moving logs. These machines can pick up individual logs or piles of smaller logs and move them to a neat pile ready for disposal.
They’re especially useful if you want to remove a few specimens without damaging any nearby trees since they can turn the log sideways to avoid any obstacles.
Once, you’ve got rid of the big stuff, you can bring in a bull hog to mulch whatever’s left. A bulldozer and a truck work together to remove the residue and level the land in preparation for construction.
Alternatively, when left on the ground, rotting wood chips can add valuable nutrients to the soil.
Getting rid of stumps is your next big task and also falls into the category of preventing regrowth.
Many species of alien trees attribute their success to the ability to regrow from stumps. Besides, you can’t continue with your construction project until you get rid of these projections.
If you have time, you can wait for the stumps to start decaying, chop them up and dig out the roots. Few of us have that luxury though.
It’s quicker and more effective to use a stump grinder to get rid of the evidence.
There are five different types of stump grinders:
- Lightweight, portable walk-behind or hand-guided grinders
- Rear-hitch wheeled stump grinders that attach to a truck
- Riding grinders that the operator controls from a seat
- Skid stump grinders work on continuous track treads in areas with soft soil
- Stump grinder attachments that connect to a skid steer
A stump grinder works by chipping away at the stump with a powerful rotating blade. This blade reduces the stump into small wood chips, grinding it down to well below the ground.
This way, you’ll end up with a huge pile of wood chips that you can push back into the cavity left by the stump grinder to decay. It’s best to top up the hole with some topsoil afterward to level the ground.
A compact TLB (tractor-loader-backhoe) helps streamline this task and you can also use it to dig up any small patches of tree seedlings you notice in the area.
You can use any remaining chips as mulch in your garden or dump them on the compost heap.
Another type of machine, called a stump grinder, works like an auger to bore down into the trunk and remove the stump and roots.
Once you’ve removed all the unwanted plants from your lot, planting desirable species and practicing diligent weed control will keep your land in pristine condition.
Find a Win-Win Way
You can offset your land clearing cost by hiring a contractor who’s interested in buying the wood from you. Some types of alien wood are highly prized by furniture and paper manufacturers.
Often you can profit from going this route and you’ll also help save a few of our indigenous trees from the sawmill.
If you do decide to go it alone when clearing your land, always get professional help in selecting the right tools for the job.
If you’d like more advice on how to get the best benefit from other things, like refurbishing your home or planning your big day, keep browsing our blog.